Exciting new Incentive Program for NYS STEM Students

May 14, 2014

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced an exciting new Incentive Program for college-bound STEM students across New York State.graphic header

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program, which will encourage the best and brightest high school students to pursue high-demand, high-tech careers and build their future in New York. The program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship to the top 10% of students in every New York high school if they major in a STEM field and work in a STEM job in New York State for five years after graduation.  (May 6, 2014)

There are several eligibility criteria, such as an applicant must:

  • Be a NYS resident
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be enrolled full time at a SUNY or CUNY college beginning with the fall term following his or her high school graduation
  • Be ranked in the top 10% of his/her high school graduating class of a NYS high school
  • Be matriculated in an undergraduate program leading to a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics at a SUNY or CUNY college
  • Earn a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher each term after the first semester
  • Execute a service contract agreeing to reside and work in NYS for five years in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics. View the terms and conditions of the service contract
  • Not be in default on a student loan made under any NYS or federal education loan program or repayment of any state award
  • Be in compliance with the terms of any service condition imposed by a state award

For more information about this incentive program, please visit the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website.  You’ll find all the details you need, including how to apply, and special details and restrictions.

Natural Disaster Education – Resources to Help

March 24, 2011

On the afternoon of March 10, 2011, a massive 8.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. 

In addition to the devastation caused by the earthquake, a tsunami was unleashed, racing across coastal Japan and radiating out through the Pacific Ocean. 

In the wake of such a catastrophic event, it is very important for students of all ages to understand the cause of such a disaster and the effects on human life and property.  It is important that students see how people in their communities, their country and all over the globe are affected by catastrophic events such as the Tsunami is Japan, the Haitian Earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, etc.     

There are many resources on the internet for teachers and parents seeking to help educate their students about natural disasters and their aftermath. 

Here are some we recommend:

FEMA for Kids – Learn about the different kinds of disasters, how to prepare and stay safe, and how to become a Disaster Action Kid.


NEOK12 – Kids science videos, lessons, quizzes and games for K-12 grade school kids that make learning fun and interesting.


Discovery EducationReady Classroom will provide elementary and middle school teachers with resources to integrate natural disaster preparedness information into their curriculum.


 PBS Teachers – Lesson plans, videos, and interactive games to provide teachers with resources on teaching about different Natural Disasters. 


Earth Day 2011 Websites for Teachers

March 16, 2011


At the request of a reader of The STEM Blog, we have compiled a list of educational websites with Earth Day activities for teachers.

We hope you find these links useful – if your class does an Earth Day activity derived from this list please send a photo and brief description to cputnam3@zimbra.naz.edu and we’ll happily put you on the Blog!

http://teachers.net/projects/earthday/ Has a list of projects and requests for projects submitted by a variety of individuals. The dates that the projects were submitted are listed as well. List includes all levels.

http://holidays.kaboose.com/earth-day/ It’s the 40th Anniversary of the holiday and this site has crafts, coloring pages and activities.

http://funschool.kaboose.com/globe-rider/earth-day/  Celebrate Earth Day with free online games for kids, Earth Day puzzles, crafts and coloring pages. Colorful graphics and lots to explore for younger children.

http://www.teachervision.fen.com/earth-day/teacher-resources/6612.html  Lessons, printables, and references are provided as well as fun hands-on activities for science and art, K-12.

http://eelink.net/pages/EE+Activities+-+Earth+Day North American Association for Environmental Education provides a list of curriculum, resources, and ways to celebrate Earth Day.

http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/earth.html This site includes information about Earth Day and  activities (including online jig-saw puzzles, poems and a variety of word games).

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/earthday/ A variety of crafts for pre-school, kindergarten and elementary students.

http://www.epa.gov/region5/publications/happy/happy.htm The EPA has a coloring book that can be downloaded as well as a document entitled ABC’s of Environmental Education. This site refers to Region 5 which includes the Great Lakes, but not New York State.

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/earth-day/ Articles, crafts, activities, poems and reading materials are included in this site.

http://edhelper.com/EarthDay.htm  Worksheets, lesson plans and activities for kids (including materials in Spanish).

TouchMath: A New Approach to Basic Math Instruction

March 6, 2011

As I know from personal experience, teaching math can often be a challenge.

Math has always come easy for me, so it’s sometimes difficult to empathize with many of my students who are unable to grasp basic concepts. 

In order to differentiate and reach the variety of learners in my classroom I am constantly looking for new instructional strategies and support materials to improve my instruction.    

Recently, I went to a professional development program run by an elementary special education teacher.  At this meeting I was introduced to a math instruction program called TouchMath.  TouchMath is a multisensory program that uses its signature TouchPoints to engage students of all abilities and learning styles in math instruction.    

Students start the program by learning to count numbers one through nine by touching each number at specific points, known as TouchPoints.  The students continue to build skills and move into learning addition and subtraction, and eventually multiplication and basic division. 

I have not had the opportunity to incorporate TouchMath into my instruction; however I believe that it can be an effective alternative to traditional math lessons.  In particular, it may be a beneficial strategy when teaching basic computation to students with special needs.  These students generally respond to a multisensory approach. 

Click here to find out more about TouchMath. 

By Katie Monroe, Graduate Student Assistant at the Rochester Area Colleges’ Center for Excellence in Math and Science.

Race Car Made From Vegetables And Runs On Chocolate

May 13, 2009


Last week, Warwick University in England unveiled its 95% biodegradable race car that runs on chocolate. It has been made entirely of sustainable and renewable materials including vegetables!

The idea of using chocolate as biodiesel is not new as the team that drove across Europe and West Africa on 2007 demonstrated (Journey across Europe to Timbuktu, Chocolate Powered Truck). But the University of Warwick took it many steps further. “While the main focus of car manufacturers has been decreasing engine emissions, the University of Warwick team broadened their vision to include the raw materials used to build the car, as well considering its final disposal” (Chocolate Powered Car). “The project clearly demonstrates that automotive environmentalism can and should be about the whole package” (Chocolate Powered Racing Car…).


steering wheel carrots
seat flax fiber shell, soy bean and recycled polyester
mirrors potato starch
brake pads ground cashew nut shells
body potato starch, recycled carbon fiber, recycled plastic bottles
lubricants plant oils
biodiesel cocoa butter (a waste product from making chocolate) turned into bio-ethanol and mixed with vegetable oil to make biodiesel

The car is expected to go 145 mph and 125 mph around corners. It took more than nine months to develop it and the cost was around USD$227,000.

Project Director, James Meredith, said “The WorldFirst project expels the myth that performance needs to be compromised when developing the sustainable motor vehicles of the future” (Chocolate Powered Racing Car…). He also mentioned that the team plans to use similar techniques to build other vehicles, such as road cars and boats (TG Daily).

Will there be enough chocolate waste to power these vehicles?

It seems that the world will need many sources to produce the biodiesel that vehicles being developed will need. This is all very exiting and I can’t wait to see it all unfold.

For more information, watch the video:

Famous Women in Mathematics

April 29, 2009


There is a very special relationship between one of my math professors this semester and a student in the class. The professor has said several times during the semester: “I need to find out about some female mathematicians”, usually after comments like: “…and that math book was written by a man, right?”  They have inspired me to do a little bit of research about famous women in mathematics to arm my professor with much needed information to respond to the student before this semester is over!

Hopefully this information will be useful to others to encourage young girls to pursue a career in mathematics or related fields.

I found three websites with lists of famous women mathematicians. Some of the links in the websites link you to biographical databases in other websites.  The three websites are: Biographies of Women in Mathematics, Famous Mathematicians from Underrepresented Groups, and Female Mathematicians. I checked all the mathematicians that were in more than one of the three lists and here are the ones I picked:




c.16 Century B.C

Wife of Pythagoras. Ran School of Pythagoras after his death. Wrote works on the Golden Ratio.



Made idea of conics easier to understand.

Florence Nightingale

May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910

Called: Prophetess of Applied Statistics

Invented Polar Area Chart in the form of polar wedges to dramatize the needless deaths caused by unsanitary conditions and the need for reform.

Winifred Edgerton Merrill

September 24, 1862 – September 6, 1951

First American woman to receive a PhD in math.

Worked on the geometrical interpretation of multiple integrals and figure out the computation of the orbit of a comet.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi

May 16, 1718 – January 9, 1799

“By far the most important and extraordinary figure in mathematics during the 18th century.”

Most important work: Analytical Institutions gave a clear summary of the state of knowledge in mathematical analysis. It included: analysis of finite quantities; elementary problems of maxima, minima, tangents, and inflection points; analysis of infinitely small quantities; integral calculus; and the inverse method of tangents and differential equations.

Grace Chisholm Young

March 15, 1868 – March 29, 1944

Worked with her husband on set theory. Authored 13 publications with her husband and 18 by herself.

Bruckner and Thomson wrote that “The whole field of what was then called ‘the theory of functions of a real variable’ was reworked and rewritten in those first decades [of the 20th century]. The Youngs played a major role in that effort.”

Edith Clarke

February 10, 1883 – October 29, 1959

Achievements in applications of mathematics to engineering.

She became an authority on the manipulation of hyperbolic functions, equivalent circuits, and graphical analysis.

Irmgard Flugge-Lotz

July 16, 1903 – May 22, 1974

Professor Flugge-Lotz acted in a central role in the development of the aircraft industry in the Western world. Her contributions spanned a lifetime during which she demonstrated, in a field dominated by men, the value and quality of a woman’s intuitive approach in searching for and discovering solutions to complex engineering problems.

Ellen Amanda Hayes

September 23, 1851 – October 27, 1930

Hayes wrote several textbooks on Lessons on Higher Algebra (1891, revised 1894), Elementary Trigonometry (1896), and Calculus with Applications, An Introduction to the Mathematical Treatment of Science (1900).

Edna Kramer Lassar

May 11, 1902 – July 9, 1984

Kramer’s greatest work is considered the book, The Nature and Growth of Modern Mathematics, which was published in 1970. This work took her 14 years to complete. In 1972 she was elected into the Hall of Fame at Hunter College. Her many books still are read and studied today, including A First Course in Educational Statistics, Mathematics Takes Wings: An Aviation Supplement to Secondary Mathematics, and The Main Stream of Mathematics.

Rózsa Péter

February 17, 1905 – February 16, 1977

Péter was the author of Playing with Infinity: Mathematical Explorations and Excursions, translated into at least 14 languages, and Recursive Functions in Computer Theory. The latter was the second Hungarian mathematical book to be published in the Soviet Union because its subject matter was considered indispensable to the theory of computers.

Helena Rasiowa

June 20, 1917 – August 9, 1994

Helena Rasiowa greatly contributed to the development of research in Poland on applications of logical methods in the foundations of computer science. She was one of the first to realize the great importance of mathematical logic for computer science – and at the same time she clearly saw the significance of computer science for the development of logic itself.

Argelia Velez-Rodriguez


Cuban Black Woman: First Black woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Habana. She taught in several American schools before joining the mathematics faculty at Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, where she was chairperson of the Department of Mathematical Science from 1975 to 1978. In 1979 she became a program manager with the Minority Institutions Science Improvement Program in Washington, D.C. Since 1980 she has been a program director for the Department of Education.

As the author of Famous Mathematicians from Underrepresented Groups said: “… until recently, women were mostly prevented from doing mathematics, so relatively few women have become famous in mathematics.” Therefore, now that women are able to study mathematics, we must inspire, encourage and help girls become interested in mathematics at an early age and help them pursue careers in math or related fields.

Imagine RIT Festival

April 17, 2009


This is the second year of  the Imagine RIT Festival which includes displays of art and science, sometimes combined.  It will have more than 400 exhibits.  It also includes food and entertainment for children and adults.  It’s going to be fun, entertaining and educational. What more do you need?

Location: RIT campus, Henrietta, NY

Day: May 2

Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


I plan on attending and may post some pictures on this blog afterward.  Make plans with your family and make sure you don’t miss this festival!

For more information or to see pictures of last year’s Imagine RIT Festival go to: Imagine RIT

Fuel Our Future Now

April 14, 2009


The X Prize Foundation,  the U.S. Department of Energy, and Discovery Education have joined forces to create an online knowledge center entitled, FuelOurFutureNow.com.

This site serves as a hub and is designed to spark student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Upon visiting the site, visitors can select their grade level, and browse resources designed specifically for students and teachers.

Videos, virtual labs, interactives, and puzzles illustrate complex ideas such as  motion, chemical energy, speed, and wheel mechanics in clear and understandable terms.

Visit the site today, and let us know what learning activities you find most useful.

Busy Parents CAN explore Science with their children!

March 24, 2009

timelapseScience Matters (formally known as Building a Presence) has posted a useful article detailing how busy parents can share scientific discoveries with their busy children. The bottom line is: we live in a world whose phenomena can be explored through science (and math!). Here are tips for you to try:

  1. See science EVERYWHERE (spring is a great time for outdoor observations)
  2. Lead science and math-based family conversations… your interest will develop your child’s
  3. Encourage children equally, and create fun learning opportunities at home
  4. Visit informal educational centers such as zoos, museums, and aquariums… even better, call your local town or city facilities and see if you can schedule a family tour (kids seem to love waste water treatment plants)
  5. Connect learning with your job, your spouses job, your brothers job, etc. When kids see a connection, they’re more likely to be interested.

Here are a few science experiments I have done with my own nieces and nephews with simple kitchen ingredients:

  • Baking soda and vinegar: feel the reaction take place… it’s literally cool; signifying an endothermic reaction
  • Baking soda and vinegar in a closed container: use caution… solids and liquids will combine to form an expanding gas
  • Cornstarch, water and food coloring: is it a solid, liquid, or gas?
  • Try taking time-lapse photography in the spring: take one picture every day of a growing or blooming plant

Enjoy science today!

Camp Fair this Sunday!

March 5, 2009


Attention Parents:

The Genesee Valley Parent Magazine is hosting the 15th annual Camp and Summer Activity Fair to help you learn about some (more than 90) of the best local summer options. At this event you can meet camp organizers, counselors and administrators in person, and ask them the questions most important to you.

The RAC-CEMS keeps a list of STEM-related summer camps  and April break camps on our website… check back often as we continue to make additions.